Developmental and social-contextual origins of depressive control-related beliefs and behavior

Karen D. Rudolph, Kathryn D. Kurlakowsky, Colleen S. Conley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research investigated the precursors and emotional consequences of maladaptive control-related beliefs and behavior during early adolescence. Two cohorts of fifth and sixth graders (Ns = 471 and 587) participated in a short-term longitudinal design. Adolescents completed measures that examined multiple aspects of family disruption and recent stress, and reported on their perceptions of control and depressive symptoms. Teachers reported on adolescents' display of helpless behavior in the classroom. Results supported the proposal that both family disruption and recent stress contribute to concurrent and future deficits in perceptions of control and helplessness. Family disruption generally exerted domain-nonspecific effects, whereas recent stress generally exerted domain-specific effects, although this pattern varied somewhat across the specific predictors. Decreased perceptions of control and increased helplessness in turn were associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms. This study advances cognitive models of depression by identifying processes underlying the development of control-based vulnerability during childhood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-475
Number of pages29
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2001


  • cognitive vulnerability
  • control beliefs and behavior
  • depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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